All posts by J.D. Brayton - Author

About J.D. Brayton - Author

J.D. Brayton is an artist, musician and writer residing in Maryland – just downwind of the gusty miasma known as the Nation’s Capital. He writes historical fiction, short stories. His Post-Gonzo Crime Pulp novels ‘The Clabber Grrrl’s Retreat’, EYE SKIN, 'THRIP' and historical fiction : The Light Horse are available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and wherever books are sold.

Of Jesus and Viscosity

OR: The Importance of Appropriate Footwear

Winter sucks.

Lets just get that straight outta the gate. Life is too short for winter and I feel angry and desperate by being trapped in steel-toed boots five months out of the year.  Hot clunky boots are hellish bunion birthing stink-sweaty vinegar gaseous toe bloat trauma waiting to happen.

They’re great for busting bricks and bending nails at the job-site or frolicking in a Metallica moshpit- but if you step in a pile of Great Dane hooey try to enter yer momma’s house, tracking that delicacy across HER carpet- yer  fuc’n done.

No debate here.

When it’s hot, I wear sandals. Not those pussy-ass slipper type sandals that Bobby Weir and the rest of his twinkie-wang ‘The Grateful Dead’ buddies wear.

With. White. Socks

With my own eyes, I have seen this rancid sandal-based Golden State cultural upchuck. Ween- wiener type open- toed sandals capable of making Perry Como and his sweetheart Bing Crosby spit into the Vegas dirt, toss their drinks into the swimming pool, and beat some 90210 hippie ass.

If Jerry Garcia were still alive he simply wouldn’t countenance this Left Coast affected twee-ass blasphemy.It should be mentioned that – if faced with this fashion tragedy – his band name would be:

The Appropriately Tenfold Dead

Nope. No fuc’n way- my hardcore East Coast dignity would never allow a fashion bomb of that magnitude.

I’m the first to show active disgust when confronted with that special hippie-dippie west coast sox n’ sandals nonsense- no! no! I mean I wear black functional heavy soled kick-ass krav maga loving Hebrew Teva sandals, capable of making John the Baptist’s decapitated head drool, Moses throw down his staff , jump out of the Jordan River and head to the nearest Hudson Trail Outfitters. Not only are my black nasty Teva’s built to withstand the vicious rocky Sinai desert trails, full of Jerusalem stone, two-headed vipers, dirt devils and biblical variety poisonous rat-sized scorpions- but they are tough enough to wear while walking through (or on) water. These sandals have unbreakable straps and soles as thick as yer Uncle Bob’s R.V. tires.

I Bullshit You Not

Personal fact – I change my own oil.

It saves a couple bucks and makes me look like some kind of mechanical genius to my wife.  I can’t say I’m really fast at it- there’s a certain amount of showmanship involved.

(Voice over)

Dejected and covered with blood sweat and grease, he leans spent upon the hood of his Gremlin, cursing (perhaps weeping beneath his breath.) She suddenly appears with a sweating cold glass of fresh iced tea. Encouraging words. Jingos. Sing-song sympathy.

Yeah right, cowboy- I wasn’t married yesterday.

One of the reasons I bought my house is that the Car Parts store is walking distance. I consider this a prudent move. One Saturday it was oil-change time, July, 102 degrees and I had my Tevas on:

The old guy had a cane, forty-odd extra pounds, little hair or left-over visual beauty- but he did carry the definite vibe of an ex-combat Marine from ‘outside-the-beltway’ farm country. I was in a hurry, still I stopped to politely hold the door for him – even though I saw that the Parts counter was busy. My oil-changing mission would be delayed by letting the old geezer butt ahead. Respect the Elders, right?

I figured this old guy had less time left on earth to wait on a car part than I did. Besides, his face was flushed and he didn’t look particularly well.

My polite deference was inordinately taxed when, as the old guy slowly limped and wheezed toward the door, he greeted me with the remark:

“ ‘Am ol’ thangs don’t look right on a man. “

He looked down at my sandals like he just spied a pair of queer monkeys.

He added thoughtfully; “Yer feet ever get wet when ya piss?”

I had my instant chimpanzee ( I’d– like- to- slap- you-HARD!) smile spread wide on my face.

“Well, partner- I’d like to think my aim is better than that.”

“Never could stand ‘am thangs myself, make a normal feller look a little light in the pants.”

‘Ok,’ I thought, ‘Maybe he thinks I’m a raw recruit. Mr. Geriatric Hard-Ass has an advanced case of Lack-Of-Social-Filters. My sandals triggered generational disdain. I kept my mouth shut and allow his gas to pass, unchallenged.

He chuckled at his own joke and pushed past me like an un-oiled rusty John Deere tractor chugging on a two cylinders. He had that unmistakable waft of old guy. The special smell. A mixture of Preparation H, joint crème, unlaundered pants, ten day old Folgers coffee and sour apple pie. He was one of those speak-yer-damn-mind old geezers.

 The hair stood up on the back of my sweaty neck. I was psychologically conflicted.

The old geriatric peckerweed was greeted with happiness and familiarity. He was a regular. The Parts Guys at the counter all knew his name. (It began with ‘MISTER’.)

The Parts Guy and Mister Hardass began jostling good-natured insults back and forth as I moved into position at the counter, waiting my turn. After the wizened creaker took ten minutes to unwrap an antique part from a first-issue turn–of-the-(19th) century lawnmower, he took a long breath and looked me over.

“Naow‘ave yawl ever seen sich a thing? Look at ‘am shoes! I go down to Flerdah every winter, got some French neighbors wear them things around all day long.” Sprunt Geezer looks back to his buddy, The Parts Guy and zings his punch-line;

”But hell, they’z light inna pants French types -whadda ya expect?” Haw Haw.

The entire store of grease-worshippers, Parts Guys, undocumented Toyota owners and one large woman (name-tag that read SAL) laugh in my face and look at my footwear.

Like this was some kind of insect petting zoo and *POOF* I’m the roach.

They are deriding my manly Teva sandals. In public. The whole fuc’n store.

And Sprunt Geezer contumely equates me with some dastardly French snowbirdy tourista from Montreal.

There are times un-filtered Dementia is just no excuse for sequacious verbigeration. Ditto for public displays of wandering redneckism.

Age be damned. His shark oil greased ass would be mine. This pinguid rack-of-dust just called me a French queer in front of a bunch of mechanics at the car parts store. This is like pissing on a monk’s feet in church. Still; I repress my need to strangle all humanity, starting with Mister Sprunt and smile genially, and say in my most even tone:

“If they are good enough for the Son Of God, they should be good enough me to wear while I change my oil.”

“What you say there?” Old Sprunt scowls, “It ain’t no call to be sacrilegious, son.”

 He glowers at me, slacking his jaw and opening his mouth wide enough to drive Sarah Palin’s tour-bus through.

“You appear to be a devout follower of Jesus Christ, sir…and Jesus wore sandals.”

“You ain’t him. I see no resemblance atall.”

“If I were Jesus and happened to be in this parts store my guess is one of three things would happen.”

“Such as?”

“Well, the way I figure it; either yawl wouldn’t recognize me as divine, but if one you did, I’d immediately be offered a job…in which case there would be damn little need for this parts store.”

“How you figgur?”  “ For starters I’d lay hands on that antique lawnmower part of yours, Mister, and hurry things along.”

“What’s the third thing?” piped in Parts Guy. I had his attention.

“Stick my righteous sandaled toe up anyone’s asshole that insulted any innocent oil-changer in public by calling him a French tourist.” I return SpruntGeezer’s glare and lean on the Parts counter like an experienced prophet. A Miracle Worker, oil-changer jista’ wearing messiah blessed footware.

Geezer answers: “Now look here, son…I fought for this country in KO-rea. I’m a Wounded Warrior. I have a right to say what I think.”

“Ah! A Warrior? You ever heard of Joshua? The mega-kick-ass Jew in sandals who beat the shit out of entire armies? Charred their heathen bones and danced around the pyre howling like a wolf with a Viagra-sized boner? I bet you might coulda used HIM in KO-rea. Or how about ol’ King David, the mega kick-ass pussy hound who wrote poetry with one hand and decapitated his enemies with the other? Was he wearing star-spangled construction boots? Hell no! And Jesus the Jew, single-handedly whipping the corporate piss outta the money-changers at the Temple?  I’ll bet no one in here would laugh at them fellers chosen footwear, would they now?”

“No cause to get riled up and call Our Lord Jesus Christ a Jew.”

“You shouldn’t say boner.” Added Sal. “They never said boner in the Bible.”

“Not only was he a Jew, he was a sandal-wearing peace and love hippie. Except for on occasion ass-bruising greedy bankers. He ate figs and hummus. He ate lamb with a parsley garnish, drank wine and herb tea…babes flocked around him, dudes wanted to be him; in fact the entire Sermon on the Mount was like a mixture of a Hebrew Rave and Poetry Slam- minus the sub-woofers, of course…talk about free ecstasy! AND he woulda hated Wall Street…you betcha. The boy wore sandals. Yep. SANDALS!

“Ah think yer talkin’ out yer blaspheming ass, son. All thets fake news.”

“That’s a matter of perspective, Mister Hater.”

“Ahem…fellers..fellers;” interjects head Parts guy,” … let’s us stick to car parts. No need to get in a pickle.”

“Or say boner;” adds Sal displaying a very sour look on her face.

“Ok now- (clears throat) Mr. Sandals…what can I do you for?”

Head Parts guy is being sequacious. And condescending. And making a stupid redneck sales-quip I’ve heard too many times before. He is looking at my footwear and mentally pissing down my leg.

“ Lemmee have six quarts of 5-30 S.A.E. and 2 quarts of that S.T.P. smoke treatment…I gotta Burning Bush out back I need to deal with.”

“Yer Hell-bound, son-I’m damn sure;” Sprunt Geezer scoffs.

“My guess is yer a lot closer to meeting yer maker than I am. Maybe you can put in a good word for me?”

“Thur ain’t no reasoning with you sandal-types, izzair?”

“Soaking figs don’t stay wet long under the harsh biblical sun in the bazaar of The Prophet.”

The deer-people in the car parts store daftly stand, eyes wide, glazed, perplexed – their thought processes annexed. I add my penultimate zinger:

“Judges: Chapter three, verse thirteen. Old-ass Testament. Resurrecting Dignity. Lookit up if yawl can read.”

I look directly into The Parts Guy’s eyes – “I’ll need a filter with that holy oil, pal.”

I’ve exhausted him. His eyes are dead fish. The rest of the scrum seem anxious to put the past ten minutes behind them. Sprunt Geezer can’t take his eyes off my sandals, making a mental note to consult my bible verse.

Right.  I’m wearing sandals.

You twats wanna dance? I gotta toolset.

Let’s do this thing.

Do These Reebox Make Me Look Phat?

NO COUPON?

OR: Do these Reeboks make my A$$ look REALLY big?

Not only am I now certain the whole world revolves around me -I have irrefutable proof.
The newest scandal involving marketing Pinocchioism :i.e.- magical tennis shoes that tone your posterior, legs, and now and forever OLD SCHOOL still rules.
Screw objectivity- the Gawd of Get-Back is squarely in my corner.

Four weeks ago- in a fit of either misplaced guilt or uncharacteristic generosity – I offered to take my lovely (read long suffering) wife out to the (*$ )NEW ($*) Silver Spring city mall to buy her a new pair of purple tennis shoes she had been lusting for – (Lusting is the right term folks- this story involves a woman and shoes.) There was a sale. And a coupon.
And I had been a tightwad for a decade.
Lets just say my (shopping) Karma had run over my(anti-shopping) Dogma.
Educational moment:
Okay- for those of you young un-married smart-asses-here’s a short lesson in modern translation between the sexes:
SALE in woman-speak=
A coupon and a sale means savings and the excellent get.
SALE in man speak=
What makes you think buying crap you don’t need is an economically sound maneuver in any way shape or form?
(Visions of a discount coupon for the Titanic come to mind.)

Or-in my case- Jesus Shana, you’ve only got TWO FEET…why do you need forty pair of shoes?
Or- when I’m REALLY determined to eat my own cooking (peanut-butter oatmeal-cold) for a week -I might conjure up a brilliant verbal hyperlink like:
Fer Chrissakes- I married an octopus!
(Attention unmarried smart-asses- Avoid saying the above. Or invest in fast food stocks and stool softeners.)
Ok. Enough eschatological suppositorial conjecture

She had a coupon.
Yer going shopping dude.

We enter the discount shoe store and browse. Browsing with mother and daughter means carrying a reader’s digest version of War and Peace to read between footwear choices.
Of course my wife-also nicknamed “The Finder” or in Levite tribal vernacular “Shops With A Fist, Bubke”- found the natty purple Chuck Taylors she wanted within forty seconds..but, there are so-oo many choices in our great Republic..why stop there?

I sit on a footstool (see what I did there?) and skim chapter 400 of my Russian masterpiece, occasionally looking up defensively at the (seriously) most corpulent woman I have ever witnessed balancing in stiletto heels.

She is a little too close. I don’t want to be judgmental, unfeeling, or socially incorrect – but I don’t want this woman to lose her balance in those carnal pole-dancer stilettos and crush me like a ripe watermelon under a Semi.

There’s nothing safe about being the only man in a shoe store full of feral females in search of bargain footwear. Go climb yer lame ass Himalayan mountain or walk your tight-rope over Times Square, or hunt Bigfoot (skim-dick) THIS takes REAL balls. Attila the Hun would avoid this adventure and hide in his yurt counting yaks.
Word.

After reminding my dear spouse that we came in on a surgical strike for purple Chuck Taylor tennis shoes-(which are under her arm being squeezed in case they come to life and attempt escape) and adding that my prostate can’t take too much more bargain hunting- (I’m afraid to ask for directions to the ‘Mens Room’- certain there isn’t one.) “The Finder” relents and we saunter over to take our place in line at the check-out counter. Our daughter has found some bunny slippers she doesn’t need. And a jutted out lower lip daring me to mention the fact that she has two pairs of bunny slippers already. (I know better.)

There are stylish young people ringing up the discount footwear with the quasi-superior air of college sophomores in the presence of three-legged gerbils.

Our shoe selling barista, a well-coiffed metro-sexual dressed in the hip clothes purchased straight out of a trendy catalog, eyes me with something bordering on the contempt one reserves for an old, fat, clueless Baby Boomer- and says:

“I’m Jeremy- I’ll be your cashier today.”

“ Thank-you, Jeremy,” I answer,  “I’m so relieved.”

Shhh-hh!” hisses my wife pushing me to the side and in one magnificent motion relieves me of my Mastercard.

“These are on sale I believe…I have a coupon.” announces Shana, with all the certainty of a satisfied lioness displaying a kill.

“Oh, so sorry- but this sale only covers Ath-u-letic Footwear.”

Sorry?

“These are Chuck Taylors…the sale only covers Reebok or Nikes.. you know, Ath-u-letic Footwear.”

“Hey thur, Germy,” I chirp, pausing to read his name tag and mispronouncing his name on purpose; “…but I believe those Chuck Taylors are capable of being tennis shoes – as in tennis, or running shoes, as in running…wearing an ath-letic cup jock strap… as in chasing game balls. See? The original Ath-letic Footwear were Chuck Taylor high-top sneakers.”

Jeremy looked at me as if I had said the rumbletoadeatschikenbythemidnight scar- in Aramaic.

Es-cuse me?” he mock-snorts.

“That’s what I’m trying to do, Germy. These are ancient mysteries only ninth degree Masons, Illuminati, or those born in the nineteen fifties could possibly know. But for you I’ll make an exception- listen carefully- I’ll whisper…soylent green is people and Chuck Taylors are ATH-LETIC shoes.”

Jeremy had that frozen possum smile people display when asked by a naked man for directions to a festive beheading. In church.

Jeremy apparently also has a microphone grafted to his palm.

“Any available manager to the front desk please…the front desk…any available manager.”

Jeremy did what every good novice sub-management trainee does- he immediately passed the buck and abrogated all responsibility. It is my guess that Jeremy had a future in politics.
I was secretly glad he used the intercom and interrupted that hideous Journey song:

‘Don’t stop belieeeee-vun- hold to that FEEEEEEE-eee-eeeee-EEEEEEEEEE-ul-lun!’

Jeremy and I were in a zoological smirk duel – He the possum, I the smiling chimp.
(Three guesses what a chimp is about to do when he smiles, chum..)

“May I help you, sir?”
It was the manager lady. She was 24 to Jeremy’s 22 years on my planet.

“I’m not sure. But you can help my wife buy this pair of Athletic footwear.”
“For the advertized discount.” Adds Shana.

The manager-lady looks at the purple Chuck Taylor’s in barely disguised pity.

“Oh, my gosh golly- our discount only applies to Athletic footwear, you know, Reebocks, Adidas, Nikes.”
“Wow,” I chimpsmile  at my wife, “…twins.
“I have a coupon.”
“Oh yes! Good golly, I can see that m’am..but those only cover Ath-uh-letic footwear…not casual footwear.”
“Romulus and Remus…country and western.” I mutter to no one.

Jeremy stands like his butt is frozen to an ice sculpture.

“Okay…like my husband tried to tell you..Chuck Taylors are Athletic wear.”
“Oh. I see. Yes; but not here.” The manager-lady says using her finest mommy-talks-to-toddler tone.

Poor thing, methinks with indeterminate dread, she just made a big mistake trying to shut down ‘Shops-With-A-Fist (my wife’s secret woodland name.)

“I. Have. A. Coupon!”

My wife’s diction has become perspicuous and her face is becoming a wholly unknown (previously undocumented) shade of burgundy. Dangerous.
All at once I know exactly what I must do.
I snatch the coupon out of my wife’s hand and ram it to my mouth and chew it like a secret agent saving the planet Treefrog. Everyone in the line, including blimp-lady with the glittering stilettos, stop and stare. Time and space hiccup. God takes a power-nap. Nothing moves. No lungs expel carbon-dioxide until I swallow my nugget.
“I demand to pay full price.” I say, the delicate taste of coupon still caressing my tongue.
“That wasso not helpful.” My wife’s eyes well up; either close to tears or about to roll on the store floor laughing.
“Ring it up Germy. Those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it…here’s thirty bucks, cash.”
“Are you sure you don’t want to look at our new line of slimming and toning Reebocks? They are guaranteed to slim you down as you walk or exercise. They are on sale.” The frightened manager-lady chirps like a pinched chihuahua. (Coupon eating husbands were not part of her training at the corporate robot-mill.)
“Ok, that postulation is way-y more absurd than eating a scrap of sale paper.”
“Oh no, sir;” says manager-lady looking directly at my wife, trying desperately to salvage the situation, “…this line of Athletic footwear is scientifically proven to help the wearer reduce weight and tone the thighs, buttocks and abs.” She touches each part of her Gen-Ex body to illustrate.
“I have more science- Eating feeds you and water is wet. Grisly science.”
Shh-hhh! You are frightening everyone.” Hisses my wife. This only encourages me.

“Yo, Germy, did you know Fruit Loops are Apple Jacks, Chocolate is the State Bird and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star is the real National Anthem.”
This time my wife and the manager lady both ignore me. I have Jeremy’s undivided attention. Now the coup de gras. “Wearing Chuck Taylors, however, are guaranteed to produce the sensation of oral sex while walking.”

The pitying look in the manager Chihuahua’s eyes and flagging retail smile reveal her tacit understanding that the woman with the non-ath-u-letic purple shoes is shopping with an unfortunate afflicted with some indefinable version of Tourette’s syndrome.

“Thank-you, come again!” Jeremy soggy eyes dart to the manager, hoping for extrication and absolution as he crams the purple Chucks into a shopping bag, puts the receipt in my hand and drops my smattering of change into my waiting hand as if my palm were a full of bloodworms.

“Banality is as contagious as premature jactitation, Germy.”
The only sound that escapes manager-lady’s lips is a:  A-hh-um-ahaaa reserved for shoppers with thalidomide children.

Have a nice day. Come again; she manages.

I doubted her veracity.

“Sorry, my husband has onomatomania and a touch of extrusionary meosis.”
The manager-lady and Jeremy the metrosexual nod in complete misunderstanding.
Neither blink.

My heart swells with a sort of carnival-barkers’ pride – my wife has both memorized and utilized the phrase I offered her as an instant get-out-of-awkward-jail card whenever I behave like this in public.
We leave with the handsomely packaged hard-won(un-discounted) Chuck Taylors.
My wife walks a full ten paces ahead of me the entire length of Fenton Street.
I am content. My work is done here. Today has been a productive day in retail.

**And now the irrefutable truth **

A month passes since my Einstein-inspired dissertation at the discount shoe store. All my transgressions have been forgotten.
Tonight the Nightly News reports that Reebock has been exposed for BULLSHIT involving scientific claims of ass-ab-leg toning bestowed by their magical Ath-uh-letic footwear.
(Some corporate spokespersons’ head is rolling across the floor in reverb. Some C.E.O.’s lying ass is going to pay dearly.)

The payout is huge- 25 bizillion dollars to the egregiously bilked overweight Ath-HA-letic shoe consumer who needed the Federal Trade Commission to explain in a prime time, coast to coast press conference that wearing “special” tennis shoes will not automatically replace a 20-minute work-out, a Saturday morning jog, a bicycle ride or the shutting our consumer society’s collective junk food swallowing piehole. This seems like no mystery. No special sauce. Muscles are not Chia pets or instant pudding.
To this I would add that wearing special shoes will not result in winged chittering magical monkeys flying out your ass. But that remark would expose an altogether unattractive, and cynical outlook.

I guess I’ll have to admit I’m just a barmecidal heterodox who has ‘old school ‘issues with vapid corporate dogshit.
So sue me.

Or better yet, gimme control of that 25 bizillion bucks and I’ll deliver ten-speed bikes to every door in America. If there’s any money left over I’ll take the change in purple Chuck Taylor high-tops and distribute these to the fattest most un-Athletic cheesesteak gobbling cities on the East Coast with a fortune-cookie message: Take A Hike. No coupon necessary.

Next week’s column explores the question:

Is Stupidity the new Swine-Flu?

Next Month: The Algorithm of Caffeine Marketing; or watch me make a row of Starbucks barista brains explode like mushroom spores on the Nature Channel by positing the eschatological question:
“Don’t you people sell regular ol’ frickin’ coffee?”

Postcard From the Jungle:RE: FLYING TREEFROGS

RE: FLYING TREEFROGS

Dear Mom;

Actually they exist. In THE Amazon where all things no one has ever seen exist. There are ancient Indian creation stories about honest politicians who make anecdotal sandwiches out of cancer curing celery and mystical cock enlarging rutabagas. The proof is limned into capybara pelts by ignominious leaf-cutter ants.

Few know Prozac originated from the uterus of the close cousin of the Amazonian Venus Flytrap. Wow. How’s that for ironic? Amazonian Indian Shamans can cure ugsome illiests of lunacy, whining, insipid veniality, excessive masturbation, petty theft and chronic bedwetting by a special dance which culminates in a swift kick in the ass. There are film crews that have mysteriously disappeared attempting to film this ritual. Missionaries and Real Estate agents fare no better.

Scientologists are eaten. (Please note that Indians of the Amazon are not cannibalistic, but for Tom Cruise they’d make an exception.)

The good news is that Karl Rove and Grover Norquist are planning a visit to work out a trade deal for explosive suppositories.

In the Amazon pigs indeed- do have wings.

I shit you not.

(Mom)

There is proof. It is unverifiable. Much like heaven or the sewers beneath East Orange, New Jersey: Faith requires no photography.

Your Aero-dynamical Pal; (Son)

MYSTR Treefrog

First printed in Blackheart Magazine

http://blackheartmagazine.com

Eustis and his Mountain Strange – J.D. Brayton

Eustis and his Mountain Strange

Camping in the Franklin, North Carolina ruby mines with the family when a stumpy pint-sized rather unwashed-and very (very) friendly Local peckerwood  generously offers to share his mountain shine with me; a 14-year old baby-faced hippie kid (with shoulder-length blonde hair in ‘1968) who bade me follow ‘Eustis’ to his ‘vurry own personal secret sapphire location’ to pan for jewels. Eustis stays drunk, but I am quite unused to pure ‘shine’, am  bandy-legged wasted from corn liquor and less wary than usual – considering the fact that we were in a simple rural setting my guard was down, (after all-I knew ‘the equipment’ I was born with), and hell—who doesn’t want a hefty buzz while panning for Carolina rubies? Eustis is getting mighty liberal with his personal hands-on approach to ‘Tourist-Aid’ when I feel the urge to pee – which, after some difficulty in standing, I unzip and issue forth, birth equipment in hand, against a handy Ponderosa Pine.  Eustis is dumb-struck, he hides his mountain-man secret boner with his hands and a look of utter embarrassment and biblical guilt when he realizes that I’m not a (by North Carolinian mountain inbred standards), a willing citified horny female who was looking for mountain strange (while on vacation).  Ol’ Eustis, being mortified beyond reckoning and blushing sunset colors as bright Fall foliage, pulls two small rubies out of his own personal jar, begs me to take them free of charge and starts praying to God for forgiveness as he carries me(literally)back to the campsite to my waiting parents, drunk off my ass. He refused the tip.

All You Need Is ( )

Dec 8- forty years ago

I was driving a Barwood Taxi in Bethesda Maryland. The news came over the radio. I couldn’t believe it, so I stopped into the Psychedelly to get a bottle of water and all these idiots were cheering and yowling over a football game on the T.V.- my heart broke even more. I thought- DON’T THEY KNOW? What else in the world could matter? I went and parked on Wisconsin Ave., switched off my 2-way radio so I couldn’t take any jobs, took out my SG (which ALWAYS rode in the front seat) and sat on the hood for hours playing. And yeah, I was crying. So was the whole world. My heart was broken and it still is.

Magic and Lost Bookmarks

MAGIC AND LOST BOOKMARKS

The decision to release my novels in Ebook format was difficult, I love the feel and smell of a physical book in my hands. I was a little slow accepting the format- it seemed temporary, unreal and as amorphous as dissipated fog- it also smacked of a format custom-made for the dilettante; a screenshot of a plastic dildo, a vanity project worthy of prescient banality – but I evolved. I suddenly began to see the many advantages- the hovering/definition feature, and the lovely font enlargement feature of the Nook or Kindle Readers. Portability ranks high, so does the storage of multiple books. The final decision to release my novels in digital format was financial- for an independent Author to produce, market, and distribute physical books is cost prohibitive. Yes; the more you order the better the price; and then you have a basement full of unsold books to remind you of your lack of marketing savvy (or more likely, lack of operating budget.) Once Amazon Prime gets hold of your product, they unilaterally reduce your copy price, until it costs you money to sell your novel. It is a frustrating and maddening conundrum; very disheartening considering that the act of writing and editing a novel is barely changed in respect to the real WORK involved in the conception and completion of a manuscript.

Does the falling tree go boom if no one is there?

Is an unread book still great?

Simple answer: it’s much better if people read your work.

I have no advice for trees, they’ve been here longer than I have.

The Pandemic has eviscerated the Arts- particularly the performing Arts- but it also has made for a very strained economy- Pay rent, buy food or buy Art? Most know the apt decision. No one can blame struggling families forgoing ‘fluff’ like Art- unless of course it comes with the cable T.V. bundle. In the case of Fiction, Literature, or Poetry – I am a firm believer in the sad fact people don’t read as much as they THINK they do. This is not anyone’s fault, time has become an ever more precious, measured. Speed rules. Most of us read scores of short snippets, rushed paragraphs, cute quickies and social media posts. It takes dedication and love of the Art of Fiction (or for that matter, non-Fiction) to apportion  time to sit still, focus and absorb a novel of any length. It also obliges the Reader to release control, allow the story to unfold, to give the author nearly total control of the mind of a Reader- and here may be the rub. No scrolling in between metaphors. Sacrifice is not a common predilection for the ‘average’ consumer. Watch the Trailer- here’s the plot and explosions. No need to wait.

Such is the pretension born of ‘individuality’ or ‘freedom’ for most Americans, or anyone else who now spends a large chunk of their lives staring at screens.

Technology is ecumenical. The other great equalizer. Available to anyone with a credit card. It’s in everyone’s interest.

A frighteningly large percentage of fellow travelers read or watch screens and come to the bewildering conclusion that wearing a mask is a sacrifice, an intrusion of their rights as sovereign herd-members to resist tyranny. Inalienable Idiocy. It’s in the Constitution. The Right to be intractably stupid.

We can all be virtually absent from grasping…one…single…thought.

The Mind tells us an accomplishment has been made, or goals fulfilled by interacting avatars on Instagram or (pick one- we ALL have choices.)

Reading is just so boring. (Yes; I’ve heard it spoken more times than I care to recount. I once even heard it said on a train and felt a strange repressed strangulation in my mind.

{To Sleep, Perchance to Dream?}

I too plead guilty. I’m staring at a screen as I write this. I have several Art-related FaceBook pages. The need to interact and with any luck, gain ‘followers’ is pure Crack propane to the sense of fulfillment- like a never-ending stream of opiated whipped crème being shot with happy gas down the throat. We willingly pull the trigger; the flaky spume collects around the corners of the mouth. Sweet, filling, tasty- but mostly empty. No Likes yet. Bummer. No love. Not even the pretend kind- which is enough in a world where touching, singing, hugging, praying, laughing, shopping, attending a wedding or burying our dead could mean our own lonely, painful, death. Petrifying. Horrifying. Unimaginable.

Wholly incorrect. The correct word? Inhuman.

Even a Loner needs the human touch – even if the last time it was truly experienced was traveling down the Birth canal toward the cry of vagitus. You can’t hug Mom now. She needs you too. Now more than ever. Dad is facing his mortality. They nurtured us, taught us to speak, eat and spell. How to scab and learn from pain.  And now, as a direct result of pure IGNORANCE, we are unable to reassure and comfort them. We can interact with technology, with cameras, cool space-age telephones. Touching the other side of the glass window at the Nursing Home.

Hello, Grampy. We haven’t forgotten. We love you, but it’s impossible to adequately explain to you why we can’t just…simply…touch…you.

If I believed in such nonsense, I would define 2020 in one word:

Demonic.

I believe we’ll make it as a species. It’s simply our turn for brazen, harsh, raw lessons. We aren’t the first, or the last generation to be challenged with the threat of annihilation. Obliteration.  Eradication by way of the polished turd of exceptionalism.

No more –Black Friday.

Suddenly fighting over the widescreens at a big box doesn’t seem worth the effort; besides, that might mean we’ll need to give up our place in the line at the Food Bank. Or the Testing Station.

Blink and you’ll miss it. The closeness. The Love. The Art. The myth of INDEPENDENCE. To seize back mental control would require the realization that we allowed ourselves to be duped into believing that there is a shortcut to understanding. That information equals knowledge. That an App can make you pretty.

Ah, the crass irony of our collective November. It seems endless. Cynical. Ambivalent.

I’m no half-baked conspiracy nut. As time has gone on, I’ve begun to trust logic, science and informed consent over astrology, magical crystals, and decapitated flopping chickens. I still like the romance of whooping shaman and wide-eyed ghosts. Spirit dances and creation myths. Stories crooned around a fire-pit. I believe in a tale well-told. A conclusion reached by intelligent consensus.

Common fucking sense.

But now I fear I’ll be the only one sitting on a rock watching the sparks flow upwards and disappearing into the night sky. I just told a joke to no one. I still imagine the laughter. Something moved in the dark.

The Boogey-Man doesn’t lurk in the shadows.

One look in the mirror should illustrate that point.

As my Momma, the English Professor said:

Trust the Tale- Not the Teller ~ D.H. Lawrence

WORLD WAR PASTA #3 Finale

See if it STICKS

Under Less Heavy Fire

Finally the Chinese delegation weighs in at the U.N. by issuing the curt, polite yet succinct statement; ” We invented these noodles and we’d advise all of you over-excited round-eyes that Pasta is SO last week, they thank Bruce Springsteen for the new folk song- it has boosted the economy in Beijing by giving the sole proprietors in the CD pirating kiosks something new to share for a few yen.” end quote.

The Chef Boy-r-Dee plant in Dubuque gathers all it’s employees to raise their middle fingers in protest while pictures are taken and sent to the Chinese government. Americans like their response. An emboldened Chef Boy-R-Dee unleashes a new product, “These Ain’t No Chinese Noodles In A Can Spaghetti-O’s.” Dubuque-ians become empowered. They decide to launch their own reality show. If Togo can do it, so can they. They test the waters with a reality Xmas special, “Ho-Ho-Ho Bags of Dubuque.” It’s number one in the ratings. So, they branch out and launch a New Year’s special along the lines of Amish Mafia, “Rebuke Dubuque.” It fails miserably. Sales of canned pasta with absurdly kindly old, fat, Italian chef logos begin to tank rapidly. Wall St. panics.

…And by noon, Australian time, WORLD WAR PASTA is declared. Switzerland declares a bank holiday, with the promise of chocolate microwaves for all new accounts opened before Iran drops the bomb they aren’t developing.

And Bono weeps…bitterly.

The Westboro Baptist Church are enroute, but are turned around when The Pope issues a statement from the Rome Motel 6 with the papal bull declaring that ” All you peoples are tripping, there is no such thing a Gay pasta, and everyone EXCEPT the members of Westboro Baptist church are going to heaven. Please keep the noise down, I need a nap.” And Bono  nearly drowns in his own tears while sitting in a lawn chair, and is revived by para-medics by an empty hotel swimming pool. In his pocket is a peniultimate missive penned in disappearing ink. Crytologists are called in to closely examine the contents – which turn out to be a grocery list with Goya Black Beans crossed out with extreme prejudice.

There is loose talk of amnesty by All-Saints Day.

Next Week- Socialist Peanut Butter- and Communist Jelly- Are Our Children safe from Georgia’s Agricultural Sub-cult of Legumes?

WORLD WAR PASTA -dispatch #2

Throw it at the Wall –
See if it Sticks

WORLD WAR PASTA #2

Little Details Matter

Later… every one of the U.N. Representatives gingerly order gluten-free  salad for lunch, not wanting to offend any of the bitterly warring pasta factions nor to incite the tomato jihad (tomahadists). Meanwhile, a group of socialists decides to stage a production of the Scopes Trial (Inherit the Wind) casting monkeys in all the parts. The performance sells out immediately. Gordon Ramsey creates a signature dish for the opening of the play which features unpeeled bananas, Saudi-free tomatoes, sugar cane, and a lot of peanuts. Tom Colicchio weeps at the unbridled beauty of its presentation. (But Anne Burrell finds a hair in her entree.) The Tea Party becomes enraged about the play and, on opening night, fills the theater, protesting lack of Christian monkeys in key roles. The next day, the media falls all over itself trying to determine which side, the actors or the Teahadists, flung the most feces in the ensuing riot.

Bob Dylan and Cher release a song “This is The Story Of The Sugarcane” with Bono sitting in on the session playing Irish tin-whistle. In solidarity with ‘his noble Primates brothers, he refuses to shave his back for a photo spread with Esquire magazine which pisses off Annie Leibovitz enough to stage a walkout with Kim Kardashian, who has just launched her signature perfume Ode’d Oyser Bay (to be worn with her Pasta bone colored table-cloth inspired swimwear, with tomato red embroidered “kiss me I’m Piquant” crotch patch) which causes the Saudis to invade Dubuque, Iowa, seizing the headwaters of the Mississippi commanding true believers to publicly urinate into the Big Muddy- Harry Reasoner (and the entire cast of 60 Minutes) is summoned for a marathon interview:

Italy has just declared Spumoni the National Bird.

An enterprising Italian fashion designer with ties to the Mafia invents anti-spumoni. It has, of course, it’s own clothing line of ersatz, lacy ear cuffs, bold fruit-laden tiaras, 2 lb. iron wristlets, grass micro-mini bras, spears in pastel shades, 7.5″ platform mukluks, and elegant band-aids in tropical hues to cover all the female nether regions. Speaking of regions of one sort or another, the Republic of Togo’s Ambassador to the UN unleashes a condemnation speech of gargantuan proportions because Bono and Oprah didn’t invite Togo to their anti-spumoni shopping party for their consciousness-raising charity; the charity being a campaign to educate the great unwashed masses about the personal pain and silent suffering of those with back hair. Bono comes out on a billboard in Times Square – he, too, is one (and for a cool $100, you can get an anti-spumoni shopping bag, just like Bono’s). He is interviewed frequently and often, candidly weeping into the cameras.

At the UN, western nations are not in attendance when the Togo speech is made. An enraged Togo calls in all it’s treaties and declares war on the Kardashians. Togo’s first and most deadly assault comes when it launches it’s own reality show on Bravo, titled, “Trolling with To-go, A Slumming Go-To.” It’s an overnight sensation, changing the way all television is produced and directed in western countries.

More as the situation develops.

World War Pasta (dispatch #1)

Under Heavy Fire by J.D. Brayton

Throw it at the Wall, See if it Sticks

World War Pasta

reporting from The Nation’s Capital.

New From The Discovery Channel: Politicizing Pasta- an expose’ in absurdity.
Chef Ramsey guest stars wearing only an apron as he curses and rants his way through six servings of Gay Rotini and Straight Spaghetti.

A special session of the U.N. General Assembly is called to discuss sanctions against Rigatoni and Angel Hair.

The U.S.S. Enterprise Aircraft Carrier is reported to be in position off Palermo, all off-duty sailors are issued condoms and pasta tongs.

The Saudis demand the seizing and destroying of all secret recipes of “Tomato Sauce.”

Italy shrugs, and naps as important decisions are being made at The Hague.

Bruce Springsteen rushes into a mobile studio with his manually battered folk guitar to record a new Harry Smith inspired Folk anthem titled:

‘This Whole Goddamned World Is Tilted Backwards”

and releases it in blue-ray, which sell out in 12-hours, but because it is pirated by Google, causes Little Steven to go into personal bankruptcy and sell his collection of silk bandannas. Wall Street scrambles to recover.

Springsteen is hospitalized as a result of inhaling a miniature harmonica.

The Pope issues a statement from the Rome Motel 6 stating the following:

“You people are crazy- Pasta is not a sex-toy, and all of you, including the C.E.O. of Barilla need therapy.”

Bono weeps openly on Italian T.V.

More to come.